Trustees appoint principals for Ramona Community, James Dukes Elementary
Mt. Woodson principal heads for district office
By Maureen Robertson
Effective July 1, Ramona High School Assistant Principal Kathryn Gunderson will be the new principal at Ramona Community School and Vista High School Assistant Principal Joy Harris will be principal at James Dukes Elementary.
In addition, Mt. Woodson Elementary Principal Theresa Grace will join Ramona Unified District administrators as senior director of education services. Trustees directed Superintendent Robert Graeff to prepare a contract for Grace and are expected to approve the contract at their June 6 meeting.
“Thank you for your confidence in me, and thank you for allowing me to spend nine wonderful years at Mt. Woodson,” Grace told trustees at their May 16 meeting. “I’m looking forward to working with you and the rest of the district to move us forward into 21st century learning and Common Core standards.”
When Dr. Cathy Pierce resigned as assistant superintendent of education services in the fall to become superintendent in Santee, trustees chose not to replace her. They instead promoted Pat Ravin to interim director of assessment and categorical programs through June 30 and directed Graeff to assume other responsibilities of assistant superintendent of education services, a job he previously held.
Pierce was the district’s senior director of education services for one year before trustees gave her the title of assistant superintendent.
“The division called education services two years ago had five full-time certificated adults.” Graeff said. “At the moment we have one. With Theresa Grace coming, the division will have only one next year.”
While trustees filled two principal slots with their appointments last week, the district will have a vacancy at Ramona Elementary, where Principal Phyllis Munoz will retire at the end of the school year. Gunderson’s move to Ramona Community will leave an assistant principal vacancy at Ramona High, and Grace’s promotion will leave the principal post at Mt. Woodson vacant.
At Ramona Community, an alternative kindergarten through grade 12 school, Gunderson will replace Carol Tennebaum,
who will retire at the end of the school year. RHS assistant principal since 2007, Gunderson was a teacher on assignment/site curriculum coordinator at the district office from 2001-07 and a Ramona High English and Introduction to Publications teacher from 1998-2001. Also at Ramona High, she was English Department chair and yearbook adviser.
“Thank you very much for your trust and this opportunity,” she told trustees. “I look forward to contributing to continuing excellence at RCS and also the rest of the district.”
Prior to coming to Ramona, Gunderson worked at National University, University of Guam, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Vista Unified School District. She has taught kindergarten through university students and says she truly appreciates the role Ramona Community plays in offering Montessori-based and independent study options to students.
“I believe in the effectiveness and relevance of Montessori education — our two children attended Montessori schools, including RCS,” she said in an email. “The independent study program of Mountain Valley Academy is, I believe, the future of education, where students create their own personalized learning environment. How wonderful that RUSD has provided this option for Ramona families many years before charter schools.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in history at California State University Fullerton, her master’s and doctorate in communications at the University of Massachusetts.
Harris will replace James Dukes Principal Pauline Leavitt who, effective July 1, will replace Olive Peirce Middle School Principal Linda Solis, who retires at the end of the school year.
Assistant principal at Vista High School for two years, Harris has taught in elementary, middle and high schools — general education and special education classes — in Hawaii, Maryland and California. She spent three years as Mira Mesa High School vice principal and was a special education administrator and site-based diagnostic resource teachers in San Diego Unified School District.
While at San Diego Unified, she also was acting principal at two elementary schools.
She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in special education/elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has a Master of Science in school administration and policy from John Hopkins University in Maryland. She is completing her doctorate of education in educational leadership at University of San Diego/San Marcos State University.
“Thank you, and I’m humbled for the opportunity,” she told the trustees. “I’m looking forward to spending some more time here in Ramona and being part of your team.”
Gunderson’s annual salary will be $117,760 for a work year of 230 days. Harris will receive $109,649 for a 225-day work year. No salary for Grace was discussed at the meeting.
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- James Dukes Elementary’s 600 Club
- Principals Tennebaum, Solis retiring at end of Ramona school year
- State honors Ramona Elementary as a Title 1 Academic Achievement School
- Pauline Leavitt to replace Linda Solis as Ramona middle school principal
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